Since most ongoing anime series took a break, I thought this would be a good time to change things up a bit and write an anime movie review. This review is for The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, a film that has received glowing praise (and some even think it’s the best anime movie ever). Given that reputation, I had to see the film myself, and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time turned out to be a very enjoyable and charming movie.
Directed by Mamoru Hosoda and animated by Madhouse, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is about a 17-year-old high school student named Makoto Konno. The film starts off with Makoto having a very bad day. She fails a pop quiz, has an accident in cooking class, gets people thrown into her, and on her way home her bike’s brakes fail and she is thrown into the path of an oncoming train. However, instead of being killed, Makoto finds herself crashing into a bystander a few seconds before the train’s arrival, and she eventually discovers that she has the power to leap through time. As the power is too fun not to take advantage of, Makoto uses her time-traveling abilities to rectify various situations (ranging from pop quizzes to her relationship with best friends Chiaki and Kousuke) in an effort to make life better, but her actions carry unintended consequences and instead Makoto finds her “fixes” are making things worse and worse.
The first thing that stood out about The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is how down to earth the story is. Time-traveling is an incredible power, but instead of using the power to save the world or even win the lottery, Makoto just uses it on comparatively mundane things such as acing quizzes, extending karaoke sessions, and meddling with the relationships of her two best friends. This is not to say that the movie itself is mundane. On the contrary, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is a very lively film thanks to great pacing and Makoto’s bumbling ways. The first half of the movie was delightful with Makoto literally crashing from scene to scene abusing her powers and digging herself deeper into the hole. The pace slows down a bit during the latter parts, but the film keeps things interesting by adding in a twist. There is no dull moment in this movie.
Another strength of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is its ability to appeal to the emotions. The film moves through a broad range of scenes ranging from slapstick comedy down to serious life-and-death situations, and these scenes convey a plethora of emotions such as joy, jealousy, hope, and regret. The most impressive thing about the film is that all of the emotions feel genuine, thanks to the construction of the characters. the simple yet expressive character designs, and the great voice-acting particularly in the case Makoto. The film makes it easy to empathize with Makoto and the others and follow them through the course of the story, and I think this is the primary reason why this movie is so enjoyable and effective.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is an excellent movie with a lot of charm and a surprising amount of emotional payoff. It would have been nice if the film explained more about Makoto’s “Aunt Witch” and the significance of the painting she was restoring, but that’s a minor issue and we can gloss over it due to the otherwise great storytelling and engaging characters. Definitely recommended.